Reproductive rights

Reproductive rights

Reproductive rights are rights relating to reproduction and reproductive health.cite journal |last=Cook |first=Rebecca J. |coauthors=Mahmoud F. Fathalla |year=1996 |month=September |title=Advancing Reproductive Rights Beyond Cairo and Beijing |journal="International Family Planning Perspectives" |volume=22 |issue=3 |pages=115–121 |url= |accessdate=2007-12-08 |doi=10.2307/2950752 |unused_data=|quote ] The World Health Organisation defines reproductive rights as follows:

"Reproductive rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. They also include the right of all to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence." [ Gender and reproductive rights home page ] ]

The realisation of reproductive rights is interlinked with the realisation of a series of recognised international human rights, including the right to health, the right to freedom from discrimination, the right to privacy, and the right not to be subjected to torture or ill-treatment.cite web |url= |title=Stop Violence Against Women: Reproductive rights |accessdate=2007-12-08 |author=Amnesty International USA |year=2007 |format=HTML |work=SVAW |publisher=Amnesty International USA ] The basic right of parents to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and a right to adequate education and information in this respect has been recognised as a subset of human rights in the 1968 Proclamation of Teheran.cite web
title=Proclamation of Tehran
publisher=International Conference on Human Rights
year= 1968
] This right is however not recognised in international human rights law.

"Reproductive rights" is an umbrella term that may include some or all of the following rights: the right to legal or safe abortion, the right to control one's reproductive functions, the right to access quality reproductive healthcare, and the right to education and access in order to make reproductive choices free from coercion, discrimination, and violence. Reproductive rights may also be understood to include education about contraception and sexually transmitted infections, and freedom from coerced sterilization and contraception, protection from gender-based practices such as female genital cutting, or FGC, and male genital mutilation, or MGM. [ [ Template ] ]

Reproductive rights were first discussed as a subset of human rights at the United Nation's 1968 International Conference on Human Rights. The sixteenth article of the Proclamation of Teheran states, "Parents have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and the spacing of their children."cite journal |last=Freedman |first=Lynn P. |coauthors=Stephen L. Isaacs |year=1993 |month=Jan. - Feb. |title=Human Rights and Reproductive Choice" |journal="Studies in Family Planning" |volume=24 |issue=1 |pages=18–30 |id= |url= |accessdate=2007-12-08]


In 1945, the UN Charter included the obligation "to promote... universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without discrimination as to race, sex, language, or religion". However, the Charter did not define these rights. Three years later, the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first international legal document to delineate human rights. The UDHR does not mention reproductive rights, which were first recognised as a subset of human rights in the 1968 Proclamation of Teheran which "review the progress made in the twenty years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to formulate a programme for the future". The Proclamation of Teheran states: "Parents have a basic right to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and a right to adequate education and information in this respect". This right was adopted by the UN General Assembly in the 1974 Declaration on Social Progress and Development which states "The family as a basic unit of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members, particularly children and youth, should be assisted and protected so that it may fully assume its responsibilities within the community. Parents have the exclusive right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children." [ [ Declaration on Social Progress and Development ] ]

The 1975 UN International Women's Year Conference echoed the Proclamation of Teheran.

Cairo Programme

Women's reproductive health is understood within the right to health and women's human rights more broadly. In 1994 the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics' World Report on Women's Health concluded that state action was required to address injustices relating to women's health. That same year, the UN held the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo. The Programme of Action (Cairo Programme) emphasized the importance of protecting women's human rights, particularly those relating to reproductive health. Expanding on the World Health Organization's definition of health, the Programme defined reproductive health as:

a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and...not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and its functions and processes. Reproductive health therefore implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so. Implicit in this last condition are the right of men and women to be informed [about] and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of family planning of their choice, as well as other methods for regulation of fertility which are not against the law, and the right of access to appropriate health-care services that will enable women to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth and provide couples with the best chance of having a healthy infant [para. 72] .
The Cairo Programme of Action was adopted by 184 UN member states.

Beijing Platform

The 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and its Declaration and Platform for Action supported the Cairo Programme's definition of reproductive health, but established a broader context of reproductive rights:

The human rights of women include their right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. Equal relationships between women and men in matters of sexual relations and reproduction, including full respect for the integrity of the person, require mutual respect for the integrity of the person, require mutual respect, consent and shared responsibility for sexual behavior and its consequences [para. 96] .
The Beijing Platform demarcated twelve interrelated critical areas of the human rights of women that require advocacy. The Platform framed women's reproductive rights as "indivisible, universal and inalienable human rights."cite journal |last=Bunch |first=Charlotte |coauthors=Susana Fried |year=1996 |month=Autumn |title=Beijing '95: Moving Women's Human Rights from Margin to Center |journal="Signs" |volume=22 |issue=1 |pages=200–204 |url=
accessdate=2007-12-11 |doi=10.1086/495143

Reproductive rights as women's rights

The United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) advocate for reproductive rights with a primary emphasis on women's rights. In this respect the UN and WHO focus on a range of issues, including access to family planning services, sex education, menopause, and the reduction of obstetric fistula, to the relationship between reproductive health and economic status.

The reproductive rights of women are advanced in the context of the right to freedom from discrimination and the social and economic status of women. The group Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN) explained the link in the following statement:

Control over reproduction is a basic need and a basic right for all women. Linked as it is to women's health and social status, as well as the powerful social structures of religion, state control and administrative inertia, and private profit, it is from the perspective of poor women that this right can best be understood and affirmed. Women know that childbearing is a social, not a purely personal, phenomenon; nor do we deny that world population trends are likely to exert considerable pressure on resources and institutions by the end of this century. But our bodies have become a pawn in the struggles among states, religions, male heads of households, and private corporations. Programs that do not take the interests of women into account are unlikely to succeed...

Attempts have been made to analyse the socioeconomic conditions that affect the realisation of a woman's reproductive rights. The term reproductive justice has been used to describe these broader social and economic issues. Proponents of reproductive justice argue that while the right to legalized abortion and contraception applies to everyone, these choices are only meaningful to those with resources, and that there is a growing gap between access and affordability.Fact|date=July 2008 [Kirk, Okazawa-Rey 2004]

Reproductive rights as men's rights

Men's reproductive rights have been claimed by various organizations, both for issues of reproductive health, and other rights related to sexual reproduction.

Three international issues in men's reproductive health are sexually transmitted disease STDs, cancer and exposure to toxins.cite web |url= |title=Men's Reproductive Health Risks: Threats to men's fertility and reproductive health include disease, cancer and exposure to toxins. |accessdate=2008-01-02 |author=Best, Kim |year=2006 |work=Network:Spring 1998, Vol. 18, No. 3 |publisher=Family Health International]

Recently men's reproductive right with regards to paternity have become subject of debate in the U.S. The term Male abortion was coined by Melanie McCulley, a South Carolina attorney, in a 1998 article. The theory begins with the premise that when a woman becomes pregnant she has the option of abortion, adoption, or parenthood; it argues, in the context of legally recognized gender equality, that in the earliest stages of pregnancy the putative (alleged) father should have the right to relinquish all future parental rights and financial responsibility, leaving the informed mother with the same three options. [McCulley, Melanie G. (1998). The male abortion: the putative father's right to terminate his interests in and obligations to the unborn child. The Journal of Law and Policy, Vol. VII, No. 1.]

In 2006, the National Center for Men brought a case in the US, Dubay v. Wells (dubbed by some Roe v. Wade for men), that argued that in the event of an unplanned pregnancy, when an unmarried woman informs a man that she is pregnant by him, he should have an opportunity to give up all paternity rights and responsibilities. Masculists argue that this would allow the woman time to make an informed decision and give men the same reproductive rights as women. [Traister, Rebecca. (March 13, 2006). " [ Roe for men?] ." "" Retrieved December 17, 2007. ] [ [ The National Center For Men, men's rights counseling divorce paternity false accusation men's equal right ] ] In its dismissal of the case, the U.S. Court of Appeals (Sixth Circuit) stated that "the Fourteenth Amendment does not deny to [the] State the power to treat different classes of persons in different ways." [cite web |url= |title=U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, case No. 06-11016]

Compulsory sterilization and abortion

Reproductive rights are understood by some to include "the right of all to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence." Compulsory or forced sterilization or abortion violate these rights, particularly when they occur in the context of eugenics programs. The Eugenics movement in North America and Europe at the beginning of the 20th Century led to the widespread forced sterilization of vulnerable populations, including the mentally or physically disabled. In the case of mentally or physically disabled women, proponents of compulsory sterilisation have argued that it is in the women's best interest. [cite journal |author=Pham HH, Lerner BH |title=In the patient's best interest? Revisiting sexual autonomy and sterilization of the developmentally disabled |journal=West. J. Med. |volume=175 |issue=4 |pages=280–3 |year=2001 |month=Oct |pmid=11577067 |pmc=1071584 |doi= |url=] Forced sterilization and forced abortion, as part of a widespread or systematic practices, have been viewed as crimes against humanity by the Rome Statute Explanatory Memorandum, which defines the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. As quoted by Guy Horton in " [ Dying Alive - A Legal Assessment of Human Rights Violations in Burma] " April 2005, co-Funded by The Netherlands Ministry for Development Co-Operation. See section "12.52 Crimes against humanity", Page 201. He references RSICC/C, Vol. 1 p. 360 ] [ [ Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court ] ]

Compulsory or forced sterilizations and abortions may also occur in the context of population control policies. In the People's Republic of China (PRC) forced or compulsory sterilization and abortion may occur in the context of the one-child policy, a population control policy (or planned birth policy). The one-child policy was introduced in 1979 as a means of controlling population growth and restricts couples to one child. Human rights groups criticise China for using compulsory abortions and sterilisations as a way of enforcing its one-child policy. In the early 1980s forced abortions and compulsory sterilisations were common in China, but Chinese Family Planning Law is now understood to prohibit forced abortion and sterilisation. Since the mid-1990s, the Chinese government has moved towards a system of fines for couples who have more than one child, while offering annual pensions of about £85 to couples over 60 who have adhered to the one-child policy. The Chinese government states that local officials are not authorised to compel people to undergo abortions or sterilisations, and in 2005 a number of government health workers were arrested in Shandong Province after the authorities admitted that local officials had been forcing women to have abortions or undergo sterilisations. [ [ China admits women were forced to have abortions - Asia, World - The Independent ] ]


ee also

* Birth control sabotage
* Chaperone (social)
* Contraceptive security
* Eugenics
* Genital integrity
* Human sexuality
* Men's movement
* One-child policy
* Parental leave
* Paternal rights and abortion
* Paternity fraud
* Pregnant patients' rights
* Reproductive health
* Reproductive medicine
* Sex and the law
* Timeline of reproductive rights legislation
* Tragedy of the commons
* Women's movement
* World population

External links

* [ Center for Reproductive Rights]
* [ The National Organization for Women]
* [ Ipas]
* [ The League of Women Voters on Reproductive Choice]
* [ UNFPA Population Issues: Reproductive Rights]
* [ NARAL Pro-Choice America]
* [ Planned Parenthood]
* [ American Civil Liberties Union]
* [ Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights] Network that links grassroots organizations that are active within this topic

Template group
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